Release Date: Feb 21, 2012
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
I must start this review with a bit of a disclaimer: before Plumb, I wasn’t that familiar with Field Music. I certainly knew of them – the Brewis brothers, their Sunderland roots, the intelligent angular-pop approach. I knew of their side projects, and I had their previous record on my MP3 player without ever really getting to grips with it. In my defence, it is a double.
Field Music's fourth album is their most precise, most musicianly, most progressive album to date. Plumb is the sound of the Brewis brothers refining and perfecting their sound, breaking it down to key elements and keeping a tight rein on the individual songs and the album as a whole. Unlike Field Music (Measure), which seemed to last forever, Plumb rushes by quickly in a whirl of quirky (in a good way) arrangements and stirring performances.
Plumb, the fourth album from the duo of Field Music--the Sunderland, England brothers Peter and David Brewis-- was recorded over the course of last year at their new hometown studio on the banks of the river Wear, is yet another time signature-shifting song suite from the group. Its lissome and driving rhythms are stretched taut over the full-length's curt 35-minute running time. Its 15 songs wonderfully dovetail with the duo's early career efforts on 2005's self-titled LP and 2007's Tones of Town.
Review Summary: So serene...a crossing into a world where the factual and concrete meet the ethereal.Field Music’s Plumb possesses a distinctly urban sound. The fluttering electronic undertones conjure up images of a bustling city street, while the intricate guitar framework depicts symmetrical complexes towering towards the sky. Overtop of those towers lay gentle brushstrokes of pop, painting a calm and accessible blue over all the hustling and scurrying below.
Towards the tail end of last year, having read a piece in The Guardian about the modern trend for hyped indie bands’ popularity to nosedive after the initial bout of attention has faded ([a]Glasvegas[/a], [a]MGMT[/a], [a]Klaxons[/a]), [a]Field Music[/a] were moved to respond. “We can function independently from the music industry,” they blogged. “Partly due to geographical isolation and partly due to the principles we’ve determinedly stuck to.”This was not your standard, holier-than-thou, indie rhetoric.
Field Music have yet to put out a stinker of an album. The Sunderland, England, band's fourth is as ambitious, clear-headed and progressive as ever, with 15 seamless songs that consistently keep interest high and ideas varied. More than ever, the Brewis brothers make known their allegiance to prog-rock forefathers XTC, Genesis, ELO and Pink Floyd, moving their brief songs in myriad melodic, rhythmic and tonal directions without frustrating listeners.
On first play, the Sunderland Brewis Brothers' fourth album sounds baffling. There are innumerable time signatures and gear shifts – a dozen just in the opener, Start the Day Right. However, perseverance brings rich rewards, as the complexities start to make a weird sense and you end up swept along in their ever-changing moods and a musical palette that stretches from the Beatles' Abbey Road-era orchestrations to XTC's jerky pop.
Field MusicPlumb[Memphis Industries; 2012]By Daniel Griffiths; March 2, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGA long, long time ago we used to have to study "music heritage" in school during music class. It was tedious and basically talked about how cultures had their own rich musical heritage that was wholly unique to them. Then we got to England/Britain and the teacher would always lament the fact there seemed to be nothing that characterised these islands (he mentioned something about the fact England had been invaded so many times in its history it couldn’t have an identity).
Field Music have spent most of their career making post-punk for pop lovers. Like their North East England brethren the Futureheads and Maximo Park, the duo had a penchant for playing cut and paste with clichés-- paying melodic homage to Paul McCartney, but going art-school with its song form. But when the band's core members, brothers Peter and David Brewis, re-emerged from a three-year hiatus in 2010, it seemed like they had ironed out their reservations about straightforward rock'n'roll.
The duo Field Music crafts pop music thick with complex arrangements and lush harmonies, propelled by good beats and amazing drum sounds. Somehow they make it all sound cold and severe, emotionally forbidding. Not that Field Music are black metal or anything—any random five-second snatch of Plumb, the British band’s fourth album, would intrigue any random Genesis fan.
Sunderland's Field Music exist out on a limb, their distance from indie-rock conventions mirrored in their physical distance from the capital. The fourth album by brothers Peter and David Brewis (plus Kevin Dosdale and new bassist Andrew Lowther) retains their trademark arrhythmic time-keeping and melodic handbrake turns while deploying more heavenly harmonies, as on the snippet "How Many More Times?". Throughout, this complex music celebrates the everyday – "Sorry Again, Mate", shrugs track three; "Who'll Pay the Bills?" asks track eight – but Field Music remain more impressive than lovable.
Upon first hearing Plumb, I was unsure of what I thought of it, seemingly able to explain why it was so great or why it was so bad with the flip of a switch. For this reason, Plumb is an album that is to be discussed, and so I have let the Devil and God inside of me take shape and do the talking, for my benefit and yours. Skeptic: Plumb is saturated with ideas, ensuring that nothing you actually like hearing lasts long enough for you to think about.
Field Music aren't an easy band; they usually cram so many ideas into their songs that it can be a little jarring for newcomers. Those who have persisted and learned to love them do so because of all their idiosyncrasies. Fourth album Plumb finds them not making many changes to their prog-y pop songs, but it's their first record that works well as a whole.
There must be something in the way British boys are brought up that has an adverse effect on the ability to play nicely with their siblings in later life. With a few notable exceptions, the Americans and the rest of the musical world seem to have mastered the art pretty well, but just ask Ray and Dave Davies, Mark and David Knopfler, Jim and William Reid or Noel and Liam Gallagher about the pros and cons of forming a band with your brother, and see how quickly they shout down the idea. Not so Sunderland's Brewis brothers, Peter and David, who for the better part of the last decade have been putting out pristine prog-pop nuggets as Field Music.
After achieving the meaningful feat of making a double album where major criticisms didn’t centre around the fact that the band could have cut, oh I don’t know, half of the material, Field Music have progressed past any “courageous” labels and straight into “to be trusted” territory. This, it appears, is a band who know how to move beyond the bounds of the genre space they might be associated with. Then again, they’ve been telling us that for years now.
Album four ploughs furrows that band and listeners have explored together before. Chris Beanland 2012 A new Field Music album is always a delicious proposition – and this, the band's fourth, offers much to sate the appetite. Off-kilter song structures, a rhythm section reminiscent of the kitchen drawer being emptied at the top of the stairs, and frequent homage paid to the protagonists of new wave all characterise the approach of Sunderland brothers Peter and David Brewis throughout Plumb.